“Andrea, do you think I could get to the ___ weight class?”
This is a question I get often. The truth is that if you have a lot of room for improvement, and by this I mean your body fat percentage is somewhere in between 11-28%, for sure we can get you to drop one or maybe two weight classes.
In Jiu Jitsu, for example, the weight classes are separated by about 10 pounds (5 kilos). Dropping those ten pounds the wrong way could result in you not being able to give your best in the battle.
Sometimes you need to drop a lot of weight fast. We all know this can happen, but if you want to improve your long game, there are better ways to manipulating your weight than dehydration and starvation. Don’t plan your weight class for one competition; think in the long term. It is a huge mistake to try and lose tons of weight leading right up to competition day.
Think about this: to drop a weight class or two, you need enough time to eliminate ONLY fat mass while simultaneously increasing your performance.
Most people contact me when they have “impossible” numbers or urgently need to drop tons of weight just before a tournament. This is not the best method.
There are several advantages of being at the top of a lower weight class, like fighting with smaller and lighter opponents. If you drop fat and increase muscle mass, your strength-to-weight ratio will have increased. Plus we all know already that excess fat only slows you down. So if you want your cardio to be on point along with your strength and endurance, losing fat and gaining muscle using properly is a no-fail method.
“So how do I decide what weight class to compete in, Andrea?”
Measure your weight.
Avoid all food with carbohydrates or sugars for two days.
Measure your weight again after two days of diet and training
Subtract the second weight from the starting weight.
What is the maximum weight for your category?
What is your Gi weight?
Start weight 57kg
After 2 Days 55.5kg
2 day difference of 1.5kg
Target weight 58.5 kg
GI weight 1.5kg
– 2 day glycogen loss 1.5kg
For the above your target scale weight becomes 55.5kg. This allows for the weight of your gi and for you to be able to eat some carbohydrates and refuel yourself.
After you have the target weight defined, we will need to assess if there is enough time to drop more weight while maintaining strength and improving performance or if it is best to fight at one higher weight class.
My personal opinion, through working with athletes who have dropped 16 pounds in two days and won and clients who are always in their walking weight, I can assure you that it is always a better idea to compete while completely hydrated, strong, and full of energy, rather than fight lighter but feeling worse than when you started.
On the other hand, perhaps you are actually a very lean, muscular person. You keep trying to lose pounds to fit into a lower weight class, but you might actually feel better by working towards going UP one weight class. Once again, this depends on your body composition and the timing before a competition, but it is something to consider.
In conclusion, if you intend to compete in a month or more, it is time for you to check your weight, get prepared, and don’t assume you are just going to drop or gain your weight in the last two weeks before the competition. Choosing the right weight class early can be the advantage you need to get to the podium.